SCRUM-HALF Dafydd Buckland looks set for a Dragons exit after declaring he needs regular rugby after finishing with Wales Under-20s.

The 19-year-old from Newport was denied an age-grade finale at the World Rugby U20 Championship because of the coronavirus outbreak, which forced the cancellation of next month's tournament in Italy.

That means he is now set for senior rugby and the diminutive half-back wants to be out in the middle.

Captain Rhodri Williams and Tavis Knoyle are the front-runners in the battle for the Dragons 9 jersey while Luke Baldwin could well return for a second season on loan from Worcester.

Buckland, like fellow up-and-comer Dan Babos, has been down the pecking order and says that he needs to be racking up the minutes somewhere.

"This year I would like to get a lot more rugby than I have had in previous years, so basically I just want to try and get my game time as high as possible," said the scrum-half, who has not played for the Dragons and was placed with Newport last season.

"Last season I spent a lot of time on development blocks – I was on a development block from the end of Celtic Cup to the start of the Six Nations basically – so only played one game in that time."

South Wales Argus:

Buckland was the lightest player at last year's World Rugby U20 Championship after weighing in at 70kgs.

The scrum-half is grafting twice a week with high-intensity interval training sessions and is attempting to add a bit, but not too much, of bulk to prepare for the step up from age-grade.

He said: "It's really good, I love the leg work, my legs are on fire! I've put on two kilos over this period so hopefully I'll start working up to 80kg. I'm 76/77 kilos at the moment."

"I don't even think about being the smallest on the field," he continued. "I try and use my size to my advantage and try and outsmart the opposition."

Buckland's frustration at his lack of game time stems from doing so well with Wales Under-20s.

He climbed the pecking order to win five caps at the 2019 Six Nations and then was a key figure in the summer global tournament after Harri Morgan was sidelined by illness.

Buckland's stand-out performance came when named as players' player of the match for his tenacious effort in the stunning 8-7 win against New Zealand.

"Last season I went into the Six Nations knowing there was a lot of competition for places for the number nine shirt," said Buckland.

"I simply wanted to get as much game time as possible so to get nine caps was something I was very proud of achieving, but surprised with at the same time.

"The highlight for me was the win against New Zealand at the World Cup. It was an awful day, thunder and lightning called the game off for an hour.

"We had to warm up again before re-starting the game and the boys held on to win. It is probably something I will remember for the rest of my life."

Buckland & Co have been denied one last learning experience at under-20 level after the cancellation of a tournament that was set to pit them against the Baby Blacks, Australia and Georgia in the group stages.

The scrum-half wanted to give the Dragons management – or any other watching coaches – a nudge.

"I think it is a big blow for everyone at my age at U20s because it is a big shop window for everyone to show what they can do," he said.

"I thought it was an unreal experience last year, going out to Argentina, experiencing a different culture. You're going away for a month with your teammates having a good time, it's a once in a lifetime experience.

"It also helped I got a lot of game time last year. It was a massive experience playing with some of the boys in that squad, I learned a hell of a lot in my first year.

"It led to massive highs in the camp when beating sides like New Zealand and it was a great feeling to be in a squad like that at the end of the day."